SINGAPORE - Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Yao Ming will not be making a stopover in Singapore during this week's Merlion Cup.
Various media had reported earlier this month that the Chinese star, whose Shanghai Sharks is set to feature in the six-team tournament that tips off tomorrow, would be in the Republic for a three-day visit beginning Tuesday (Sept 20).
But the Basketball Association of Singapore issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying he had more pressing matters to attend to.
The statement said: "The Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) has just been informed that Basketball legend and owner of the Shanghai Sharks Yao Ming will not be coming to Singapore for the Merlion Cup.
"In his capacity of owner of the Shanghai Sharks, there has been a change in schedule of key meetings with the Chinese Basketball Association, resulting in him forgoing the trip to Singapore.
"Whilst this is unfortunate, BAS hopes to see him back in Singapore's shores in the near future. Meanwhile, be sure to catch Yao Ming's Shanghai Sharks take on some of the best teams in Asia at the Merlion Cup from 21 to 25 September at the OCBC Arena."
Besides Yao's Sharks, the other teams in the tournament are Asean Basketball League (ABL) champions Westports Malaysia Dragons, Seoul Samsung Thunders, Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor, Philippines Mighty Sports and ABL runners-up and hosts the Singapore Slingers.